Match Program: FC Cincinnati at New York City FC

FC Cincinnati concludes a two-match road trip on Thursday with a visit to Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC. The Orange & Blue come into…

Graphic: CSDIV

FC Cincinnati concludes a two-match road trip on Thursday with a visit to Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC. The Orange & Blue come into the match on the heels of a 3-1 defeat to the Colorado Rapids, their third consecutive loss. Despite tying that contest 1-1 in the 72nd minute, two late goals from Colorado sunk FCC yet again. Yoann Damet’s team comes into the match in last place in the Eastern Conference after losing eight of their last nine matches.

NYCFC enters the contest in decent form — the draw specialists of MLS are in 6th place on 20 points. They have two more draws than anyone else in the league — 8 total on the season. They are undefeated in their last nine played and most recently tied the Crew at Mapfre Stadium in a game that ended with a 2-2 scoreline.

Kendall Waston, Allan Cruz, Alvas Powell, and Darren Mattocks are on Gold Cup duty and will miss the match. Fatai Alashe, Leo Bertone, and Kenny Saief are still listed as questionable, all due to hamstring injuries.

NYCFC will be without USMNT keeper Sean Johnson, Tico Mataritta, and Alexander Callens because of international call-ups.

Kickoff is at 7:00pm Eastern.

Fast Facts

  • Yankee Stadium will be a tough venue for FCC to implement its newly-adopted possession-based style under Yoann Damet. New York City FC is second overall in MLS in possession at home with an average of 57.5%. Only Atlanta United does it better.
  • This is battle of two of the bottom five teams in MLS in terms of goals scored. FC Cincinnati has 12 total on the season, worst in the league and 4 fewer than any other team. NYCFC has 18 total goals which is fifth worst.
  • Former Dayton Dutch Lions and Columbus Crew goalkeeper Brad Stuver should get the call between the pipes for NYCFC in the absence of Sean Johnson.
  • After FC Cincinnati plays in the Bronx, they will not play another MLS match for 16 days, when the LA Galaxy come to Nippert on Saturday, June 22.
  • Nick Hagglund is likely to make his 100th MLS appearance against NYCFC on Thursday.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati at New York City FC on Thursday.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Colorado Rapids

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FC Cincinnati opens a two-match road trip against the Colorado Rapids in the Centennial State on Saturday. The Orange & Blue come into the match following a 2-0 home defeat to the New York Red Bulls last weekend. After a promising but goalless first half in that contest, a defensive error by typically-reliable fullback Mathieu Deplagne led to FCC’s demise.

The Rapids are the not-so-proud owners of the worst points total in all of MLS, with just 9 total. However, they have been resurgent lately, earning two wins and a draw in their last three matches played. Their most recent result came on Wednesday, when they drew 1-1 with the Philadelphia Union in Pennsylvania.

This match is the second “Toilet Bowl” of the 2019 MLS season — a meeting between the last place teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. On April 27th, Atlanta United was the last place team in the Eastern Conference and defeated the same Colorado Rapids 1-0 in the first toilet bowl.

FC Cincinnati is currently plagued with minor injuries. Fatai Alashe, Leo Bertone, Corben Bone, Greg Garza, Allan Cruz, and Darren Mattocks are all listed as questionable for this contest.

Rookie midfielder Tommy McCabe was recalled from loan this week and is available for selection in this match. McCabe made nine appearances, including eight starts and scored two goals while with North Carolina FC in the USL.

Kendall Waston will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation and therefore left early on Friday for Gold Cup duty with Costa Rica.

Kickoff is at 8:30pm Eastern.

Fast Facts

  • Frankie Amaya leads all players from both teams in passing accuracy, at 88.5%. This stat excludes players that have logged less than 300 minutes of playing time this season.
  • The Rapids are led by veteran striker Kei Kamara, who has seven goals on the season. Interestingly, Kamara was drafted by FC Cincinnati in the expansion draft last December but was promptly traded to Colorado for an international roster spot.
  • This match features the only two current interim head coaches in MLS: Yoann Damet and Colorado’s Connor Casey. Casey took the reins for the Rapids on May 1st when Anthony Hudson was fired.
  • The Rapids average 5 more shots per game than FCC (14.6 to 9.6) and have scored 10 more goals (21 to 11). 43% of their tallies are from set pieces or the penalty spot.
  • The Colorado Rapids lead the league in red cards with 5. In contrast, FC Cincinnati has yet to receive a red card this season.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs New York Red Bulls

FC Cincinnati return home to face the New York Red Bulls for their third match under interim head coach Yoann Damet. The Orange & Blue are …

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FC Cincinnati return home to face the New York Red Bulls for their third match under interim head coach Yoann Damet. The Orange & Blue are licking wounds after last weekend’s 5-1 thrashing in Orlando, and hoping to return to winning ways in front of a Memorial Day weekend crowd at Nippert stadium.

After a slow start to the season, Chris Armas’ Red Bulls have won four of their last six matches and are now in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday’s match is the second meeting this season between these two teams. On April 28th, Red Bull won the first match 1-0 in New Jersey, despite a strong second half performance from FCC. Defender Connor Lade scored the lone goal in the 38th minute of that contest.

The Red Bulls come to Cincinnati after a disappointing 2-2 midweek draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps at home. A rotated Red Bulls lineup led 2-1 until the 61st minute when Freddy Montero equalized from the penalty spot after VAR spotted a handball in the box.

New York will have a few key absentees for this match. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Vincent Bezecourt, and Andreas Ivan are all doubtful due to injury. However, the center back pairing of Aaron Long and Tim Parker is likely to be reinstated on Saturday per Joe Goldstein. Long was injured and Parker was suspended for the match against Vancouver.

Corben Bone, Greg Garza, and Allan Cruz are all listed as questionable for FC Cincinnati. Forward Rashawn Dally has been recalled from his loan and is available for selection in this match.

Fast Facts

  • Mathieu Deplagne has logged 1,170 minutes for FC Cincinnati this season, more than any player on either team. Luis Robles of the Red Bulls has played every minute in 12 starts in 2019, 90 minutes less than Deplagne.
  • According to the oddsmakers, FC Cincinnati’s chance of winning, at the time of publishing, is paying the exact same as the odds of New York winning, 2.6 to 1.
  • FC Cincinnati needs to beware of set piece situations. The NY Red Bulls have scored the second most set piece goals in MLS, at 6, and FC Cincinnati have conceded the second most set piece goals, 5.
  • The Red Bulls are one of the few teams in the league with less yellow cards than FC Cincinnati. Their total of 15 cautions is the fewest in MLS. They do however have 2 red cards, including Kaku’s infamous ejection against Sporting Kansas City.
  • FC Cincinnati and the Red Bulls are second and third in MLS with the most interceptions per game at 13 and 12.5 respectively.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati versus New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC

FC Cincinnati returned to winning ways under interim head coach Yoann Damet last week, and look to extend their success…

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FC Cincinnati returned to winning ways last week under interim head coach Yoann Damet and look to extend their success against Orlando City SC this Sunday. They’ll reacquaint themselves with former rival, James O’Connor, in the process. O’Connor coached Louisville City FC from 2015-2018 before taking the reins at a struggling Orlando City last June.

Orlando City SC are in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, one place and one point ahead of FC Cincinnati in the standings. The Florida outfit come into Sunday’s match on the heels of three consecutive defeats, including a 2-1 midweek loss to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink. They rotated heavily for that match so many of their usual starters should be rested for Sunday’s contest.

Corben Bone, Kenny Saief, and Allan Cruz are all listed as questionable for FC Cincinnati.

Fast Facts

  • 42% of FC Cincinnati’s attacks come down the left side. That percentage is tied as second most left-sided attack in the league. That percentage is typically even higher when Greg Garza is in the match. In comparison, Orlando City FC is fairly balanced but favors the right slightly at 39% of attacks originating there.
  • FC Cincinnati are second-best in MLS in aerial duel success rate at 53.9%. Only LAFC does it better.
  • Greg Garza returned from injury to start last Saturday, and led FCC in total passes (91), total passes in Montréal’s half (37) and total touches (107).
  • FC Cincinnati have the fewest total yellow cards, at 14, in MLS and the fewest cards per game at 1.2. Orlando City SC, in comparison, have 22 yellow cards after 12 matches.
  • Nani has lived-up to his DP billing for Orlando City SC. In just 8 starts, he has 5 goals, including 2 game-winning goals, and 4 assists. However, he has been nursing a calf injury and did not play in OCSC’s last two matches.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC on Sunday.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Montréal Impact

After a tumultuous week where FC Cincinnati fired head coach Alan Koch, the team attempts to regroup on home turf against the Montréal Impact

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After a tumultuous week where FC Cincinnati fired head coach Alan Koch, the team attempts to regroup on home turf against the Montréal Impact. Interim head coach Yoann Damet now leads the team, and interestingly, he was an academy coach with the Montréal Impact for three years prior to joining FC Cincinnati in 2017.

The Orange & Blue have lost five straight matches and have not scored a goal in that timeframe. Their most recent disappointment was in San Jose where they suffered a 1-0 defeat despite having a man advantage for most of the second half.

Montréal arrives in the Queen City buzzing after a 2-1 midweek win over the Red Bulls in New Jersey. They were without star playmaker Ignacio Piatti and rotated their roster, but still won. As a result, they occupy third place in the Eastern Conference. Further, they are tied on points with the two leaders in the East, but a -3 goal differential leaves them in a lower position. Piatti will also miss the match against FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

Greg Garza, Corben Bone, and Alvas Powell are all listed as questionable for this contest, although Garza did return to practice this week. Kickoff is at 1 pm Eastern Time.

Fast Facts

  • FC Cincinnati is second in the league in aerial duels won, with 19.4 per game. Only the New York Red Bulls can boast a higher rate.
  • FC Cincinnati and Montréal Impact have the second and third worst shots per game averages in MLS. However, Montréal at 10.6 shots per game have scored 14 goals and FC Cincinnati, at 10.2 shots per game have netted only 8.
  • The Montreal Impact have scored twice as many goals from open play, 10, as FC Cincinnati have, 5, this season. FCC ranks last in the league in this category.
  • The Impact lead MLS in successful dribbles with 148. In comparison, FC Cincinnati are 15th with 102 total. Keep in mind that Montréal has played one additional game at this point in the season.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Montréal Insights

For some insights on this week’s opponent, we reached out to our friends in Montréal for perspective on FC Cincinnati’s new head coach, Yoann Damet and Saturday’s matchup.

Antony de Varennes, co-editor in chief of culturesoccer.com, shared the following on Damet’s philosophy as a coach.

“Yoann Damet is a coach that likes to be close to his players. He strongly believes that the human side of the players is as important as the tactical approach. On the pitch, he focuses on the players as a group and not as individuals as he thinks that a well-balanced group will enhance individual performance.”

For additional insights on Damet, check out the article below from Culture Soccer (you’ll need a browser translator if you don’t speak French).

Il était une fois Cincinnati E1 : Construire un effectif

Additionally, friend of the blog Hady Raphaël and co-editor in chief of culturesoccer.com, gave us some insights into Montréal’s squad rotation on Wednesday and who we might see line up on Saturday.


For Saturday, the lineup and formation all depends on our injured players. We had eight injured players on Wednesday, that’s why Garde changed his tactical system from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3.

If everybody’s healthy except Piatti, I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to our normal 4-3-3 (right to left):

Bush
Sagna-Diallo-Raitala-Lovitz
Azira-Piette-Taider
Novillo-Okwonkwo
Urruti

If we still have injuries we will keep our same tactical formation in 3-4-3 with Taider in the lineup for sure and I’m pretty sure we’ll see Sagna back in the lineup too.


Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus the Montréal Impact.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at San Jose Earthquakes

FC Cincinnati will have a chance to stop their Eastern Conference freefall on Saturday when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes…

Design: CSDIV / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati have a chance to stop their Eastern Conference freefall on Saturday when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. A midweek defeat to the Philadelphia Union means four consecutive losses for Alan Koch’s men, and five losses in their last six matches played. The biggest concern now is the team’s extended goal drought, which stands at 431 minutes.

FC Cincinnati may have picked the wrong time to visit San Jose. After losing their first three matches at Avaya this season, Matias Almeyda’s side surprised MLS with a 3-0 drubbing of the Portland Timbers at home on April 6th. They are 1-1-2 since that win with results that include a 4-1 home victory over Sporting KC and road draws with the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas.

Fanendo Adi, Greg Garza, Kenny Saief, and Corben Bone are all listed as questionable for this contest. Kickoff is at 10:00 pm Eastern Time.

Fast Facts

  • The San Jose Earthquakes have more disciplinary infractions than any team in MLS with 24 yellow cards and 1 red card after 9 matches. Expect a physical opponent on Saturday.
  • In contrast, FC Cincinnati has accumulated 11 yellows this season (tied for third fewest) and 0 reds. They also have the fifth-fewest fouls per game in MLS. Could Alan Koch’s side find success with a more physical approach?
  • Both teams allow their opponents a lot of looks at goal. San Jose allows an average of 16.1 shots per game and FC Cincinnati allows 15.9 per game. Those are the second and third highest shots allowed per game averages in MLS.
  • San Jose score 1.6 goals per game at home on average and FC Cincinnati concede 1.7 goals per game away from home. FCC will have to score 2-3 goals to get something out of this match if those averages hold up —not a great stat for FCC given their current offensive form.
  • San Jose averages the third most key passes per game in MLS at 11. FC Cincinnati, by comparison, is last in the league at 6.9 per game.
  • Want a statistical category where FC Cincinnati leads the league? FCC has the fewest dispossessions per game, at 6.9, of any team in MLS. Dispossessed is defined as “Player is dispossessed on the ball by an opponent – no dribble involved.” Basically, it represents being caught on the ball.

All stats via mlssoccer.com and whoscored.com.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus the San Jose Earthquakes.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Philadelphia Union

FC Cincinnati square-off against the Philadelphia Union in a midweek clash marking the Orange & Blue’s first ever rematch versus an MLS opponent.

Design: CSDIV / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati square-off against the Philadelphia Union in a midweek clash marking the Orange & Blue’s first in-season rematch versus an MLS opponent. After taking 7 points from the first four games, Cincinnati suffered defeat to Philadelphia at Nippert Stadium by a score of 2-0.  Since then, FCC has only managed 1 point from the following four games.

That winless stretch is highlighted by the complete absence of goals. FC Cincinnati has not scored a goal from the run of play in 475 minutes. Even for a team that prioritizes strong defense and counterattacking soccer, the lack of offensive production is very troubling. Only Atlanta United and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have scored fewer goals this season. In turn, the defense bears a greater burden as they must be perfect for 90 minutes. Head coach Alan Koch is now left to determine what changes are needed to get his team back on track.

Fanendo Adi, Corben Bone, and Greg Garza are all listed as questionable for this match. The Union also have injuries problems. They look likely to miss star goalkeeper Andre Blake. In addition, Marco Fabian may not be fully fit as he just returned to training yesterday after an ankle injury.

Kickoff at Talen Energy Stadium is at 7:30 PM.

Fast Facts

  • Philadelphia (4-3-2) are sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Since these two sides last met, the Union have picked up 7 points in four games. They can go top of the Eastern Conference with a win.
  • Will Fanendo Adi dress for Wednesday’s game? He returned to training last week but did not make the bench against the New York Red Bulls. Off-field issues aside, Adi’s experience and goal-scoring expertise are sorely missed right now.
  • Last time Cincinnati faced Philadelphia, 4 players had played every single minute. Now just three players have that honor: Nick Hagglund, Mathieu Deplagne, and Leo Bertone. Like their FCC counterparts, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, and Jack Elliot have all racked up 810 minutes of total playing time.
  • On the flip side, Nazmi Albadawi is the only field player to not have earned playing time under Alan Koch this season. Of course, this does not include loaned players (such as Emery Welshman) or injured players (such as Jimmy McLaughlin).
  • Kendall Waston and Leo Bertone both have 4 yellow cards putting them in dangerous territory. MLS rules state that after 5 yellow cards players must serve a 1 game suspension.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of Philadelphia Union versus FC Cincinnati.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at New York Red Bulls

Alan Koch and company begin a three-game road trip at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. The big news, of course, is that Fanendo Adi…

Design: CSDIV / Image: Joe Craven

Alan Koch and company begin a three-game road trip at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. The big news, of course, is that Fanendo Adi has been reinstated. He returned to training Thursday and is available for selection in this match.

Joe Goldstein of the Red Bulls News Network and Seeing Red podcast joined Orange & Blue Press for some Q&A on FC Cincinnati’s next opponent.


How badly does the team miss Tyler Adams? Do current problems stem from his absence or other factors?

I wrote a lengthy article this week chalking up the Red Bulls struggles to the loss of Adams in ways that are expressed outside of the midfield. The answer is, immensely. Adams ferocity and personality were a big part of the 2018 team, and they haven’t figured out how to replace him just yet.

How big of a loss is Kaku right now as he faces an additional two-match suspension?

Kaku’s absence for the next few games is a negative, but don’t overlook that the Red Bulls have not won an MLS game with Kaku on the field in 2019. Not a huge data set to work with. As the Red Bulls are playing a lot of long-ball this season, Kaku’s best attributes have been sort of negated. They will miss him but not as much as they would have at the beginning of last season.

Are Armas and RBNY are looking at Cincinnati, who are struggling also, as a good opportunity to get things moving in the right direction?

I don’t think they are approaching this match as a way to right the ship, but the fans are certainly looking at it that way. Armas feels that the Red Bulls are doing a lot of the right things, but paying for all of their mistakes in 2019. Their issues up the field are compounding their backline struggles, but it isn’t as bad as it looks for the most part. Given FCCs struggles scoring in their last four matches, it may relieve some of the pressure the Red Bulls have been under. Still, FCC poses a significant counter-attack risk, so even if FCC bunker and let Red Bulls get into a rhythm, they need to be careful not to overcommit.

What else should Cincinnati fans should know about RBNY ahead of this match? Were people in NY taking the Henry rumors seriously?

Because of the slow start, many Red Bull fans were hoping the Henry rumors were true, more than strictly believing them to be true. My sources remained consistent throughout saying there was no truth to the rumor, but that didn’t stop the restless Red Bull fans from trying to will the move simply to remove Armas. While they have started poorly this season, many parallels can be made back to the 2016 season, where the team started slowly under Jesse Marsch and their high hopes for their Argentine DP (Gonzalo Veron) didn’t come to fruition. It is too soon to call this a disaster, but should they lose this weekend at home to expansion FCC, fan ire will intensify.


A big thanks for Joe for his time and insights. Go check out his work on The Red Bulls News Network, Seeing Red and Raising Bulls podcasts. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus New York Red Bulls.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Real Salt Lake

FC Cincinnati is back at Nippert tomorrow for Friday night lights against Real Salt Lake. Lucas Muller from SB Nation’s RSL Soapbox gave us the skinny…

Design: CSDIV / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati is back at Nippert tomorrow for Friday night lights against Real Salt Lake. Lucas Muller from SB Nation’s RSL Soapbox gave us the skinny on this matchup between teams that are looking for maximum points from this contest.

RSL have found difficulty getting points away from Rio Tinto. How do you feel RSL needs to approach this game differently from past away games?

Real Salt Lake’s road form has been abysmal both last season (3 wins, 11 losses, 3 draws) and this year (3 losses and 1 draw). On the bright side, RSL has looked much more competitive in their last two road games, even if they lost. They were really unlucky to give up a last minute goal that deflected off of a defender in LA, and they were combative against Seattle until the final whistle. It’s certainly an improvement over that 5-0 loss to D.C.

In order to win, the team will need to bunker more than we normally see from them. That’s asking a lot, especially with Luiz likely out with injury. RSL’s backline has been a funny thing. Brooks Lennon is a forward who has been converted to right back, yet that experiment, which has been going on for about a year, isn’t finding much success. Last week’s backline saw Toia on the left, Glad and Onuoha at center back, and Herrera at right back. Herrera has often played on the left, but the whole defense looks better when players are in their natural positions. The only goal they conceded at the weekend was a brilliant free kick from Nani, so it’s hard to pin that on them too much. 

In the attack, the team will need to utilize their speed and their depth. Guys like Johnson and Baird are very fast and can make life difficult for defenders. RSL also has a ton of attackers that can sub on. If they can avoid conceding early, they should have an option to apply attacking pressure throughout, even if that’s through countering-attacking opportunities.

What’s your early season take on forward Sam Johnson, after a slow start due to injury and internationals, but now scoring his first goal?

Sam Johnson has a lot of potential for the team. He’s fast, hard-working, and intelligent. What impressed me most about his goal from last weekend is that he scored immediately after falling down. He didn’t give up on the play, but fought on and finished from a very difficult angle.

We’re hoping that his first goal is what opens the floodgates, but it’s too early to predict that. His stats are improving; he started in Seattle and Orlando games with 2 shots in Seattle and 3 against Orlando, one of which resulted in a goal.

In his first few games, he came on as a substitute, but wasn’t getting a lot of service.  If the players around him can build an understanding of his style of play, he’ll be a major threat.

RSL are conceding 2 goals against per match. Is the bigger problem in their defense green/poor defenders, or does it have more to do with Rimando and Beckerman aging out? Or something else?

It’s probably a combination of issues. Rimando has 18 saves this season, which isn’t bad. There are goals you think he would’ve saved five years ago, but he’s also come up big at moments this season as well.

My opinion is that playing Brooks Lennon as a right back has really hurt the defense. He’s a good winger/forward, but he struggles on the backline. At this point, the only green defenders are Lennon, when he’s at right back, and Herrera. But Herrera has played most of his career at right back and he looks confident, even if he has occasional mistakes.

Onuoha has been an incredible addition to the team, not just for what he brings on the field, but as a former captain at Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City player, his leadership and experience is a huge asset.

Glad broke his toe at the start of the year, but has rejoined the team and looked good against Orlando. RSL has three center backs that are starting quality between Silva, Onuoha, and Glad, and Glad looks determined to earn back his starting spot. 

I really believe the defense has improved this year, and the 5-0 blowout at D.C. was due to red cards and a penalty more than defensive mistakes. RSL has four losses this season, but three of those came when the team received a red card. A red is always going to change a game drastically, so if they can keep all 11 men on the pitch, they have a good shot at three points.

Everton Luiz left the Orlando match injured, what’s his status for this Friday’s contest and how important is the Brazilian to the team?

Everton has been the most impactful addition to the team this year. The midfield was a real struggle for RSL last season and Everton has done an outstanding job as a box-to-box player. Beckerman was never a fast player and has lost a step in the last few years, but Luiz’s speed has paired really well. This injury is the one that makes me very nervous. Nick Besler filled in well for Everton when he exited last Saturday, but it’s certainly a drop off in talent between the two.

A big thanks to Lucas for his time and insights on this week’s matchup. Be sure to check out their stuff at RSL Soapbox and stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of Friday’s match.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Los Angeles FC

As a change-up from the usual fast facts format of our match programs, we reached out to friend of Orange & Blue Press, Alicia Rodriguez, …


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FC Cincinnati heads to the West Coast on Saturday for a matchup with last year’s expansion darling, LAFC, at Banc of California Stadium. As a change-up to the usual fast facts format for this match program, we reached out to friend of Orange & Blue Press, Alicia Rodriguez, who is the managing editor of Angels on Parade, SB Nation’s Los Angeles FC blog.

We asked for Alicia’s insights on four key questions heading into Saturday’s contest.


What was the biggest glaring hole for LAFC in 2018? How did Bradley fix it in the offseason?

The biggest issue for LAFC in their debut season was coughing up leads and having late defensive breakdowns in games. Somewhat remarkably, the team opted not to make a bunch of changes, instead signing one new starter, center back Eddie Segura, and letting the rest of the group that returned get another shot at it. So far, the extra time (and Segura’s arrival) has worked, as they have allowed five goals in six games and have back-to-back clean sheets. Does this mean the defensive issues of 2018 are totally behind them? That remains to be seen. But players have said that the continuity has helped a lot, and so far, the proof is in the pudding.

LAFC is the hottest team in MLS. Can you see any chinks in the armor that FC Cincinnati can exploit?

LAFC have been down a goal in a few games, but they haven’t had to contend with a multigoal deficit so far. Any team that gets increasingly desperate is bound to get sloppy, and who knows how they would respond. I’d also not wish to see any players ejected, but how would they deal with a red card? That hasn’t happened yet this year, so there are game states that the team hasn’t faced so far, and if it’s one that’s favorable to the opponent, at some point it’s bound to slow them down.

So far LAFC’s opponents have received four red cards over the first six games. Is that just good fortune or is LAFC doing something to get these players in trouble?

Truthfully, I wouldn’t consider three of the red cards to be controversial at all. The fourth? Diego Chara picked up a second yellow card for flicking Diego Rossi’s ear — a violation of the letter of the law if maybe not necessarily the spirit. I think there are two things in common with the red cards so far: LAFC’s attack has been so clinical that teams get desperate to stop another push upfield however they can, and that means clotheslines (RSL’s Justin Portillo), rough midfield fouls to stop play (SKC’s Roger Espinoza), potential leg-breaking tackles (D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney) and yes, even flicks of the ear. The other thing in common is Rossi — he’s drawn three of the four red cards, and he’s a player who both has been fined for embellishment this year and seems to be getting less sympathy from the referees when he goes to ground, but also draws more than his share of legitimate fouls and cards, too.

LAFC tried to trade-up in the SuperDraft and get southern California native Frankie Amaya. Is there any buzz in LA about Frankie returning and possibly playing, given FC Cincinnati’s current injury troubles?

Aside from his family and friends? I’d say not really. Yes, LAFC made offers to trade up for Amaya, but when FC Cincinnati didn’t budge at the draft, they drafted two midfielders who they ended up signing, in Peter-Lee Vassell and Javi Perez. Vassell came to the team a full Jamaican international and has been a regular sub, while Perez has already made his MLS debut while splitting his time on loan in the USL Championship. Time will tell which players end up with the better trajectories, but early returns seem to indicate LAFC ended up drafting pretty well.


A big thanks to Alicia for her time and insights. Go check out all of her work at angelsonparade.com and mlssoccer.com. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at LAFC on Saturday.